KAIRÓS is an URBACT Action Planning Network focused on cultural heritage as a driver for sustainable urban development and regeneration. In ancient Greek KAIRÓS means the propitious moment, and this is the moment to test an innovative policy framework, combining a sound integrated approach with a real transformation purpose. To meet this challenge, the KAIRÓS model pursues the proper assemblage of five key dimensions, namely: space, economy, social accessibility, attractiveness and governance.
TOURISM-FRIENDLY CITIES is an Action Planning Network aimed at exploring how tourism can be made sustainable in medium-sized cities, reducing the negative impact on neighbourhoods and areas interested by different types of tourism and its related aspects through integrated and inclusive strategies keeping a balance between the needs of the local community, in terms of quality of life and of services available, and the promotion of sustainable urban development at environmental, social and economic level.
Local community & tourists together for urban sustainability
Find your Greatness is a concept that reflects the most challenges addressed by AIM together with other EU local communities. Why Find your Greatness? Because the challenge is to build on the cities' potential. In the case of the partners of the project the need identified locally and which was built as a sustainable mechanism generating urban development, the need to explore and enhance the potential of the city, combining strategic marketing approach with innovative smart city tools.
Europe's first strategic brand building program for smart cities
Public procurement is the process used by municipalities and other institutions to buy goods, services and works which enable them to deliver their activities.
At URBACT we see procurement as a strategic lever that cities can use to address the economic, social and environmental challenges they face.
We think procurement could be used to create jobs and apprenticeships, to develop workers skills and reduce carbon emissions. We call this strategic procurement.
Buying a better future
The URBACT Knowledge Hub brings together good practices from across the EU, with the latest urban trends, to fill the gaps and make sure that the learning is within everyone's reach. At URBACT we see procurement as a strategic lever that cities can use to address the economic, social and environmental challenges they face. Building on the experience of URBACT networks, we developed a wealth of resources on strategic procurement, including a free online course targeted at anyone with an interest in procurement and changing the way it is undertaken in cities.
Start now your Strategic Public Procurement journey with the introduction general module and the first part of the gender responsive sequence.
How does URBACT supports cities to improve their procurement strategies?
In 2015, the work of the PROCURE network paved the way for a future generation of URBACT cities eager to enhance their procurement processes. The core learning from the network was that procurement has to be viewed as a cycle. We called this process “the Cycle of Procurement”.
In 2018, the Making Spend Matter Transfer Network started working on transferring one of the key steps of the cycle called Spend Analysis across seven cities.
Since 2017, URBACT and the City of Preston have been contributing to the Urban Agenda Partnership on Public Procurement pushing forward public procurement as a strategic driver to help public authorities solve challenges they are dealing with, be they social, economic or environmental.
URBACT Online Course on Strategic Procurement
About the course
Drawing upon the activities of Procure and Making Spend Matter's cities, URBACT has developed a free online course to equip cities with the knowledge and tools required to embed social and environmental criteria into the process of public procurement and to progress strategic procurement.
Who is this course for?
This free and online training is targeted at anyone with an interest in procurement and changing the way it is undertaken in cities. You could be a mayor or politician, a civil servant working in strategy or procurement department, or working in urban and economic development, or someone completely different and willing to learn!
What's the structure of the course?
Released in 2021, the course comprises of 7 training modules and accompanying city case-studies covering the procurement cycle. In addition to the original course, URBACT released 4 new transversal modules to raise awareness and help cities implement gender responsive public procurement at local level. Developed in collaboration with EIGE, the course is made of 6 videos, including 2 case studies.
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What gender has to do with procurement?
URBACT launches new Gender Responsive Public Procurement training! Expert Sally Kneeshaw shares her thoughts about it.
Following the success of the first generation of the Urbact BluAct Transfer Network - in which 6 European cities were supported to transfer a Good Practice in Blue Growth Entrepreneurship from the city of Piraeus between 2018 and 2020 - a further 4 cities have now also been given the opportunity to learn from the Piraeus Good Practice. The new partners in the BluAct Network will benefit from the rich experience of the city of Piraeus and will work alongside a nominated lead expert who led the original Transfer Network. With much of the hard work already done to break down the Good Practice into understandable blocks, it should be easier second time around to apply the URBACT transfer method.
BluAct is a Transfer network of 7 European port cities including Piraeus, Mataro, Ostend, Galati, Matosinhos, Burgas and Salerno aiming to share good practices in Blue Economy entrepreneurship. The project follows the success of Piraeus’ Blue Growth Initiative, an entrepreneurship competition that
Koszalin is a city in northwest Poland located 12 km south of the Baltic Sea coast. The three most important sectors of the economy are industry, construction and tourism.
Koszalin had already worked with Preston (UK) as a partner in the 2015-2018 URBACT network ‘Procure’, in which it had sought to understand if and how procurement could really be used to create jobs, support SMEs, and address environmental challenges - and whether procurement bureaucracy could really be reduced.
As a result, the city already had a local Integrated Action Plan (IAP) to improve its approaches to procurement and was convinced of the power of procurement to prompt both local economic change and pursue sustainability objectives.
In 2018, Koszalin was looking for help to implement their ambitious new IAP, and particularly objectives around understanding more effectively their procurement spending, encouraging local SMEs to bid for procurement opportunities with Koszalin City Council, including social and environmental considerations in decision-making; and influencing the procurement behaviour of other anchor institutions”.
Sustainable and integrated urban approach
The approach developed by Preston for procurement addressed local (economic), social and environmental considerations, while seeking to promote local products, social enterprises, local SMEs and environmentally friendly products. At the same time integration is key within municipalities and in the cites to ensure that these criteria are correctly identified and addressed.
Through their URBACT Local Group (ULG), Koszalin City Council transferred the spend analysis tool to anchor institutions within the city, such as the Regional Hospital, Technical University of Koszalin, and Koszalin District Administration. This enabled them to explore alongside the city authorities how much they spend, and where that money goes geographically, sectorally and in business type terms.
What difference has it made
Across all procurers within the city, they collectively identified an annual spend of over EUR 100 million making procurement a significant contributor to Gross Domestic Product. The City Council was pleasantly surprised by the extent to which procurement spend was already spent with organisations in the Koszalin Functional Urban Area (83%) and SMEs (91%).
Addressing the other side of the procurement dynamic, Koszalin strengthened relations with business representative bodies and SMEs. They surveyed business chambers to identify challenges and how they could be addressed to support SME participation in procurement.
Transferring the practice
The city adopted Preston’s spend analysis tool and achieved the core objective of their previous URBACT network and IAP: to understand the scale of procurement spend in the city and to use this evidence to shape wider procurement practice.
Koszalin has presented their procurement activities and results at events organised by the Polish National URBACT Point to showcase their example as a city that has realised real incremental change. They also shared their learning bilaterally with the Gdansk-Gdynia-Sopot Metropolitan Area and they feature as a case study in URBACT’s strategic procurement training programme.
The involvement in Procure and Making Spend Matter has been “incredibly beneficial” for procurement in Koszalin and the city representatives are convinced that this is only the beginning of a new journey around procurement. Indeed, they recognise that progressive procurement is integral to the future economic, social and environmental destiny of Koszalin.
Since 2015, URBACT has been at the forefront of supporting cities in using public procurement as a strategic tool to tackle their social, economic and environmental challenges.
In his recent article on URBACT and Public Procurement, URBACT expert Matthew Baqueriza-Jackson notes that the perception of public procurement is changing, “from something… shrouded in bureaucracy and challenges, to something which is integral to ‘integrated urban development’ and exciting”.
The recent URBACT Online Course on Strategic Procurement confirmed that there is a growing community eager to learn from each other on how to apply procurement more strategically in cities. URBACT is committed to supporting this community in collaboration with the European Commission, EU Urban Agenda Partnership on Innovative & Responsible Public Procurement, EUROCITIES and many more players!
What happened in March 2021?
The first ‘learning cycle’ of URBACT’s online course was a great success! It ran over a three-week period and was followed by more than 600 registered participants from over 40 countries and 150 cities across the world!
The course comprises seven modules covering the whole procurement process from recognising why procurement is important and analysing your city’s spending… to deciding contracts and monitoring those that have been awarded.
Every week, new modules were released on the URBACT Toolbox – allowing participants to learn about each step of the procurement cycle based on city case studies.
Matthew explaining the Importance of Procurement and the structure of the course in Module 1
As part of this first learning cycle, the modules were supported by weekly live events. While the modules remain accessible to everyone at all times, these live events provided participants a moment to network, meet their trainers and discuss the learning outcomes. More than 150 people from over 30 countries and 70 cities took part in the live events!
URBACT pushing the debate on public procurement
One week after the launch of the online course, URBACT organised the first live event in collaboration with the EU Urban Agenda Partnership on Innovative & Responsible Procurement. This event invited speakers from EUROCITIES and the European Commission for a panel discussion on the different dimensions of the EU policy framework.
Speakers emphasised some of the key messages of the course. For example, the “importance of having a different vision of public procurement and using it as a lever to develop a better quality of services to our citizens,” was mentioned by Ivo Locatelli, from DG GROW, European Commission.
Ieva Cerniute, from DG REGIO, added that “around 50% of the EU cohesion policy is channelled through public procurement” and highlighted the work of the Commission in “promoting a strategic way of using public procurement in the cohesion policy while investing in EU funds”.
Anja Katalin de Cunto, coordinator of the Big Buyers Initiative at EUROCITIES, insisted on how important it is to “continue working and collaborating with the market not only with big suppliers, but also the local suppliers because the dialogue has to be in both directions”.
While there are no plans to update the current EU Directives on public procurement, speakers agreed that there is room for improvement within the current framework. Investing in capacity-building for public buyers to maximise existing possibilities, for example, was said to be a priority.
The speakers also indicated that food procurement is another critical area for improvement to allow cities to buy more locally and use procurement as a lever towards developing local food systems. This can help protect citizens’ health, the environment and support the local economy – closely aligning with the work of URBACT’s Transfer Network Bio-Canteens and URBACT’s wider influencing efforts leading to COP 26.
Finally, Matthew announced that URBACT is currently researching on the impact that public procurement has on women. Building on the great collaborations developed in the framework of Gender Equal Cities and the momentum of this online course, URBACT is organising a thought-provoking session on ethical and gender-responsive procurement at the 4th URBACT City Festival, taking place online on 15-17 June 2021.
What did participants think of URBACT’s first learning cycle on strategic procurement?
The feedback on the course was overwhelmingly positive! Participants praised both the content of the course and the structure of the learning cycle. More than 95% of the participants felt that they could put what they learned on strategic procurement into practice within their city and would recommend the course to others. Participant feedback included the following quotes:
“The URBACT Online Course on Strategic Procurement is a great learning [resource]. I found it a great opportunity to learn and update my knowledge... I enjoyed the course from the beginning till the end...”
“I liked the possibility to watch courses when it suited me… [Since] there was a possibility to watch them when you wanted, that was really helpful in times when there are a lot of online meetings to schedule.”
What is also striking is the diversity of the participants, including not only urban practitioners looking to undertake strategic methods in their procurement processes, but consultants, researchers and students engaged in the topic. Interestingly enough, while numerous URBACT beneficiaries took part in the course, most registered participants were not previously involved in the URBACT programme, either as experts or as city partners. URBACT will continue to facilitate learning exchanges among this community to keep the course content alive.
Wish you’ve had the chance to join?
The first learning cycle may have ended, but the opportunities to benefit from the wealth of URBACT knowledge on strategic procurement are far from over.
Interested in further expanding your knowledge on public procurement? Sign up for the session on Ethical and Gender-Sensitive Procurement at the 4th URBACT City Festival, taking place online 15-17 June 2021. Make sure to save the date already and click here to register!
Don’t miss out on these opportunities to build your capacity on the topic of strategic public procurement – an ever-more-important lever to drive positive change within cities and communities. We hope to see you online soon!
Nouhaila Bouhout is a Communications Officer at the URBACT Secretariat. One of her main projects is designing and implementing the digital communication strategy of the URBACT Online Course on Strategic Procurement.
Digi Place is an Action Planning Network that aims to set up an acceleration mechanism to enable cities to catch up the digitalisation opportunities in hard & soft infrastructure. Remove all the obstacles encountered by mid-sized cities in their digital journey: lack of strategic & global vision lack of technical and engineering capacities difficulties in incorporating the digital innovation. Municipalities need to guaranty the uptake of digital innovation by the local stakeholders: citizen and potential entrepreneurs.
iPlace is a journey where the partner cities are fellow travellers who are always seeking to find niches appropriate for their cities, while deepening their understanding of the nuances that make their cities special, with the determination to use the knowledge they gained for nesting new ideas that will sprout more sustainable local economic development.
Finding our niches for sustainable local economic development
IoTXchange presents its Network Result Product, an explanatory video that demonstrates the crucial role that Information Technologies and in particular Internet of Things (IoT) play in urban sustainable development of small and medium-sized cities, namely by increasing the local economy competitiveness, promoting citizens' life quality and delivering connected services to citizens and visitors.
Integrated Action Plans
Make Fundão an IoT city
The municipality of Fundão is situated in the Centro Region of Portugal, belonging to the Beiras and Serra da Estrela sub-region and to Castelo Branco district, and occupies an area of approximately 700 Km², in which 23 parishes are distributed. Read more here!
Fundão - Portugal
Smart municipality development plan for Jelgava
Jelgava Local Municipality sees value in nurturing technology research, testing and implementation in order to increase life quality for citizens and optimise public service operations. Read more here!
City of Kezmarok Integrated Action Plan
The town is located in the Podtatranská kotlina, in the northern part of the Popradská kotlina, in the valley of the river Poprad. To the west lie the High Tatras and the Kežmarok Uplands, to the east of Kežmarok the Levočské hills rise. Read more here!
Kezmarok - Estonia
Integrated Action Plan for the Municipality of Razlog
Razlog Municipality is located in southwestern Bulgaria. Its territory is defined by borders with Belitsa municipality, Rila municipality, municipality Blagoevgrad, Simitli municipality, Kresna municipality and Bansko municipality. Read more here!
Razlog - Bulgaria
Integrated Action Plan from Nevers Agglomeration
A historically industrial territory, during the second part of the 20th century, Nevers Agglomeration’s economy revolved around big industrial companies (such as Philipps for example), who were then important employers. Read more here!
Nevers Agglomeration - France
Improving life through connectivity in Ange
Ånge municipality is a rural area in center of Sweden. Ånge is a small municipality with about 9200 residents, despite being small, Ånge is futures oriented and holds many thriving communities. Read more here!
Ange - Sweden
Building the future in Dodoni
Dodoni municipality is a Rural Area in the NorthWest of Epirus and in the western mainland of Greece. The municipality consists of 56 local communities covers a vast area of 658.880 acres, and with a population of 9.693 inhabitants thus it is sparsely populated. Read more here!
Dodoni - Greece
Integrated Action Plan for the city of Nykarleby
The city of Nykarleby needs to cope with the changes that are taking place in Finnish society. Especially for cities and municipalities in rural areas the age structure is challenging as younger people move to larger cities while the state subsidies for the municipal sector have decreased. Read more here!
Internet of Things as a policy instrument for the city change. It encourages the creation of a network of European partners committed to the design of digitalization plans based on Internet of Things (IoT) solutions to increase the quality of life in small and medium sized EU cities. URBACT methodology based on transnational cooperation between cities and engagement of local groups offer to our network of 9 cities the conditions to each develop an Integrated Action Plan that will guide us through a new age of digital transformation.